The federal welfare agency recently made public its plans to integrate at least 31,000 fingerprint scanners into its national support office, area support offices, call centres and customer service centres.
"Keyboard scanners are not suitable," Centrelink said in an addendum to its original tender documents, "as they do not meet requirements for our mobile users, neither are they flexible enough in the positioning of the scanner component. Stand-alone scanners are more flexible than mouse scanners for people who may alternate which hand they use their mouse with, for occupational health and safety reasons."
Centrelink said scanners integrated into mice or keyboards were not nearly as robust or reliable as stand-alone models. "Our research indicates that stand-alone scanners are highly reliable devices with no moving parts," the organisation continued and "hence [are] cheaper to maintain."
"Equipment with built-in scanners [has] multiple points of failure," it added. And if a mechanical failure occurs, the scanner will be affected since it is not independent of the keyboard.
Centrelink also indicated its existing hardware refresh arrangements were another nail in the coffin of integrated scanners. "Centrelink does not wish to replace any of our existing desktop hardware, for example keyboards," the organisation said. "This is done periodically as part of our desktop replacement program."
The fingerprint scanners are designed to replace Centrelink's existing single user password verification system.